Solo Skald |||

Return to Ker Nethalas

With the release of v1.5 of Ker Nethalas: Into the Midnight Throne (affiliate link), I wanted to come back and give it a try. I created a new character, Genesis (she/her), with masteries in Zealot and Emissary, skilled with bladed weapons.

Hard Beginnings

Rather than use the starting” tutorial domain again, I decided to use another Dyson Logos map, Red Talon’s Lair. From there, of course, I’ll use the rules for a new character and their equipment.

  • d6 = 5 direct damage
  • d4 = 1 Sanity loss
  • +1 Exhaustion
  • Weapon: Rapier (Bladed, d6 damage, speed 10, quick for +10 initiative)
  • Armor: Torso (heavy cloth)
  • 13 Crafting Supplies
  • 2 Cooking Supplies

Exploration

I was judged for an illicit marriage, unsanctioned by the authorities. Our Holy Lord, however, blessed me, and I have survived the execution” and subsequent fall into the necropolis. Scrounging here in the darkness, I find a heavy shift to cover my body, a rapier, and a few bits that I can use to sustain myself. But there is a foul taint here in the domain of a demonic Overseer: Veilshifter, the Illusory Archon.

Due to its arcane influence, all other creatures here will be Tough: immune to critical hits (until I defeat it).

Map of the Domain

Area 1 (Room)

This room’s walls are covered with the tattered remains of ancient heraldic banners.

Banners from the old days, before the rise of the current dictatorship that tries to force all into its supremacist mold.

Lair check: d12 negative. Tension check: d8 negative. Encounter check: positive.

Reanimated Homunculus

These creatures are a twisted amalgamation of necromantic art and dark alchemy, the most sacred arts in Vaelorian society. Its form is a grotesque mockery of life, with stitched-together limbs and patchwork flesh, giving it an unsettling and unnatural appearance, and its body emits an aura of necrotic energy, crackling with the volatile essence that animates it. Reanimated Homunculi are highly unstable, their necromantic essence making it unpredictable and potentially explosive. In combat, they don’t really pose a serious threat, due to their slow and clumsy movements. It is only when they appear to freeze that running becomes the wise choice, as an explosion is sure to follow, obliterating both the Homunculus and anyone in its vicinity.

  • Number 1, Awareness 40, Endurance 50, Athletic 20, Health 6, Armor 1 (Chest), Combat 20, MR 60, Undead

I raise my rapier and take a combat stance. Initiative: 17/60 vs 98/40, I go first.

Round 1: Invoking the secret name of my Holy Lord, my weapon ignites with radiant flame. (-5 Aether (sustained), +d4 Holy damage). The Reanimated Homunculus suddenly freezes in place, its necromantic essence becoming increasingly volatile.” It will explode shortly, doing significant damage to anyone in the room and destroying itself.

Round 2: There’s no point in fighting this thing; I’ll attempt to flee: 64/35, I fail and it blocks me in. As it explodes, I try to avoid the worst of the damage: 23/35, I succeed and will only take half. That’s 2d10 = 6,1 => 2 damage, and I take half, so 1 damage only. That could have been significantly worse.

After the fight, I recover d4 = 3 => 1 toughness, so it’s a wash.

While my scavenging turns up nothing of value here, the door leaving this room is unlocked. It’s trapped, though, and I see it in time (31/50 Perception). I don’t have any way to disarm it, so I’ll try to avoid it: 50/20 Athletics, failure. Noxious gas fills the chamber, and I fail my Endurance check so I take 2d4 = 3,1 => 1 damage from the poison.

I gain 50 XP for entering a new domain of Ker Nethalas and 50 XP for defeating the Reanimated Homunculus (a total of 100 XP).

Area 2 (Corridor)

Thick moss covers the damp stone walls, giving the corridor an eerie green glow. The sound of water dripping echoes throughout.

Tension check: d8 fails. Encounter check: negative.

There are two other doors here, one leading forward and the other doubling back, more or less. I’ll go forward, but first I need to check the door: it’s locked. This is going to require some effort to break it down, but first I notice that it’s trapped. As I try to force the door, I’ll see if I can avoid it.

Attempt 1: Failure to open (40/20 Athletics). Tension check: d8 negative.

Attempt 2: Success to open (18/40 Athletics). Tension check: d8 positive.

My Acrobatics check to avoid the trap fails (75/15), and a fireball fills the corridor. I take 2d6 = 1,6 => 2 damage from the flames, dropping me to 12/20 Toughness. I also gain 10 XP for opening a locked door, bringing my total to 110 XP.

Area 3 (Room)

Twisted and grotesque sculptures rest on pedestals, each representing the artist’s descent into madness.

This place needs the light of the Holy Lord, for certain. Perhaps I have been sent here to do His will, purging the infernal taint from this domain.

Lair check: d12 negative. Tension check: d6 positive. Encounter check: positive.

Swarmer

Swarmers are horrifying and relentless monsters, a nightmarish amalgamation born from the unholy union of thousands of smaller creatures. Their colossal form is a grotesque mass of chittering insects, squirming worms, and writhing serpents, all fused together in a monstrous swarm. Swarmers attack with unrelenting ferocity, unleashing a deluge of venomous bites, stings, and corrosive secretions upon its prey. Its swarm form makes it a formidable adversary, allowing it to attack from multiple angles and overwhelm even the bravest of foes.

  • Number 1, Awareness 50, Endurance 40, Athletic 30, Health 6, Combat 30, MR 30, Penetrating (1), Venomous, Animal + Construct

My minimal armor will be useless against the ferocious attacks of this creature, and I fear its venomous bite. Due to its swarming nature, it doesn’t even have any weak points to exploit. But my blessed rapier will, I pray, bring an end to this abomination. Initiative: 57/60 vs 24/50, I go first.

Round 1: My weapon already has the radiant flame, and I attack the Swarmer: 33/80 (critical success) vs 5/30, I win. However, the Overseer’s influence makes it Tough, so there’s no critical hit. Instead, I deal d6+d4 = 3,4 => 2 damage to it, bringing it down to 4 Health. In response, it attempts an Acid Spray but my Magical Resistance succeeds (13/20) and the corrosive liquid doesn’t affect me.

Round 2: I attack again, 74/80 vs 59/30 and my rapier strikes true, dealing d6+d4 = 5,2 => 3 damage to the Swarmer. It’s still standing, but barely. Once more, it releases a spray of acid, and my Magical Resistance is unable to withstand that assault. (Technically this was a fumble, 55/20, but in my reading, this is not an opposed combat check so I don’t think that counts the same way.) I take d6 = 3 => 1 damage from the acid and my armor is reduced by 1 until I can camp and repair it.

Round 3: While this strike isn’t my best work, 12/80 vs 48/30 still succeeds, dealing d6+d4 = 4,1 => 1 damage to the Swarmer: just enough to defeat it.

I rest a bit and recover d4 = 4 => 1 toughness, negating the damage I took from the acid (although my armor is still damaged). My scavenging doesn’t find anything useful here beyond the 1x Cooking Supplies from the remains of the Swarmer. Finally, I gain 50 XP for defeating the Swarmer, so I’m now at 160 XP.

Two doors lead from this room, one ahead of me and one to my left. I decide to go ahead.

Rules Interpretation: Doors

The rules for doors, locks, and traps are still unclear to me due to mixed terminology between the book and the exploration flowchart. Here’s how I’m going to interpret them for now:

  • Roll a d20. On a 12+, it’s locked and must be picked or forced open. The lock’s difficulty is determined by a d8 roll on the Difficulty table (p. 63).
  • Roll a d10. On a 7+, it’s trapped. These two rolls are independent of each other.
  • If the door is trapped, a Perception check at a random difficulty is required to notice it. On a failure, I do not get a chance to disarm or avoid it.
  • If the door is locked, I can either attempt a Thievery check (with Thieves’ Tools) to pick the lock or an Athletics check to force it open. If I fail the Thievery check, I trigger the trap. If I fail the Athletics check, I make a Tension check and the next attempt is at a +20 bonus.

Once the trap is triggered, I roll a d10 to determine its effect. If I noticed the trap in advance, this also tells me what skill check I need to make to avoid it (at a random difficulty). If I didn’t, or if I cannot avoid it, then the effect takes place and is resolved as normal.

With that in mind, this door is unlocked and untrapped, so I can proceed without issue.

Area 4 (Corridor)

Tension check: d4 negative. Encounter check: negative.

Again a door bars my way. It is locked but not trapped, so I’ll try to force it open. The lock is Easy, so I have a +10 modifier to my Athletics check. That’s a failure (58/30), so I’ll roll a tension check: d4 positive.

An inhuman voice screams, whispers and yells; somehow, you know that’s an Overseer. Roll on the Overseer Influence table. All opponents from this Domain benefit from the result, but they also grant +10 XP.

The scream gives them Magebane: +10 Magic Resistance. Fortunately, that doesn’t (currently) affect me since I’m not using abilities that require a check against their MR. The Tension Die resets to a d8.

I’ll try again to force the door open: 24/50, success. The door opens into a room. I also gain 10 XP for opening a locked door so that I now have 170 XP.

Area 5 (Room)

This room was once a treasure vault filled with riches, but it has long since been ransacked.

The new rulers of the city of Veldonia have taken everything of value, stripping it of anything that might benefit the people here. The Holy Lord will visit great anger upon them, and I shall be His instrument.

Lair check: d12 negative. Tension check: d8 positive (decrease to d6). Encounter check: positive.

Razorjaw

The formidable Razorjaw possesses scaly, black skin that grants it natural camouflage for its life deep within the necropolis. Its limbs are thick and muscular, allowing it to traverse the rugged terrain with remarkable agility and speed, while its razor-sharp claws can tear through the toughest of obstacles and adversaries with ease. However, its most terrifying feature lies within its massive maw — a set of gleaming, serrated teeth resembling deadly, interlocking blades, from which it derives its name. The Razorjaw’s bite is said to rend through flesh and bone like paper, and its primal, reptilian eyes glint with an ancient intelligence that betrays its predatory instincts, making it a relentless and cunning hunter.

  • Number 1, Awareness 70, Endurance 50, Athletics 60, Health 6, Armor 1 (Forequarters), Combat 40, MR 40, Penetrating (2), Animal, Quadruped

I expect this to be a particularly difficult fight. Initiative: 27/60 vs 68/70, the Razorjaw goes first.

Round 1: The Razorjaw lunges at me with its massive maw to make a Vicious Bite, 61/50 vs 100/70, it fails but I fumble: You drop your weapon and must spend your next turn recovering it.” And in fact, now that it’s my turn, that’s exactly what I do, grabbing my blessed rapier from the floor.

Round 2: The Razorjaw leaps toward me in an attempt to knock me to the ground. (I think this should be an opposed check, so I’m treating it that way). Our Athletics checks are 47/60 versus 08/20, so indeed I am knocked prone. It immediately follows up with a free bite attack, 88/70 (fumble!) versus my 29/70. In the process of executing [its] attack, [it] trip[s] and slam[s its] head. [It is] Dazed for 2 rounds.” Additionally, my defensive move gives it the Bleeding(1) condition.

Round 3: Since my enemy is dazed, it can’t initiate attacks. I take this opportunity to stagger back to my feet, whispering a quick prayer to my Holy Lord.

Round 4: The Razorjaw is still dazed, and I press the attack against it, 52/80 vs 59/40, I succeed and deal d6+d4 = 4,4 => 2 damage to it, taking it down to 4 Health.

Round 5: It recovers from its daze and leaps at me again, requiring an opposed Athletics check: 59/60 vs 01/20, so I am once again knocked prone. Its follow-up bite attack is 80/70 vs 76/70, with no result. Again, I spend my turn getting back up.

Round 6: Savagely pouncing at me again, it succeeds in taking me back to the floor, but I am able to fend off its bite before recovering my stance.

Round 7: Apparently it thinks this is the only move to make, because once again it pounces at me but misses (61/60). In response, I strike back, 48/80 vs 61/40, striking it in a leg for d6+d4 = 3,1 => 1 damage and leaving it at 3 Health.

Round 8: The Razorjaw tries a vicious bite again, 09/50 vs 50/70, and fails. My defensive move grants +d10 damage to my next attack, so I slash with my rapier, 74/80 vs 74/40, so I can roll d6+d4+d10 = 1,3,8 => 4 damage to the Razorjaw’s leg again, defeating it.

(I wish I’d remembered the Defensive Moves earlier!) In any case, the spoils from this monster are a precious gem worth 3d100 = 100+51+93 => 244 coins in case I ever find a trader in this horrible undercity. I also gain 60 XP for defeating the encounter (now at 230 XP) but find nothing when I scavenge.

The door leading me out is on my left, and it is locked. All I can do is attempt to force it, but this results in a failure so I roll my Tension Die (d6 positive, decreases to d4) and try again. This time I succeed and gain 10 XP to leave me at 240 XP. I also recover d4 = 4 => 1 Toughness.

Area 6 (Room)

This chamber once housed the living quarters of a family of servants. Faint children’s drawings can be seen of the walls.

I take a moment to recall my own childhood and happier days with my family before continuing on.

Lair check: d12 positive (decrease to d10). Tension check: d4 positive, and the darkness grows such that I turn too quickly and smash my hip against a corner. Fortunately for me (I suppose), I have nothing on my belt to knock loose. Encounter check: positive.

Cavebound Leech

The slimy, segmented body of a Cavebound Leech stretches for several meters, with a glistening, mucus-covered exoskeleton that allows it to move effortlessly through the underground passages. Its elongated, razor-sharp teeth line its gaping maw, capable of piercing through even the sturdiest of armors. When disturbed, the Cavebound Leech lies in wait, coiled like a nightmarish serpent, ready to strike with lightning speed and constrict its victim in its suffocating embrace while at the same time attempting to devour them with its terrible jaws.

  • Number 1, Awareness 60, Endurance 60, Athletics 40, Health 5, Armor 1 (full body), Combat 30, MR 30, Penetrating (1), Alert, Animal + Serpentoid

While I am unable to surprise it, I can successfully take the initiative against the leech.

Round 1: My rapier slashes it successfully, dealing 2 damage, although its armor absorbs 1 of that and I take it to 4 Health. It attempts to devour me with its engulfing maw, but I fend it off and it will have -20 to its next defensive roll.

Round 2: Again I find a weak point in its exoskeleton and deal a net of 1 damage (after armor), leaving it at 3 Health. It then lunges at me with its Constricting Grasp but fails and I again press my advantage.

Round 3: With that advantage, I hit it in its body but cannot pierce through its armor. Once more I avoid the Constricting Grasp and leave it bleeding (1).

Round 4: There’s a spot between its segments where I can slash it again, this time for 2 damage total. It’s nearly down! But the leech strikes at me with its razor-sharp teeth and gnaws through my useless cloth armor for 2 damage, dropping me to 11 Toughness.

Round 5: Despite my flourishes that strike true, the leech resists the damage I do and remains a viable opponent. It bites at me again, but I defend successfully and increase the bleed on it; in fact, all I need to do is survive the next round.

Round 6: I watch the ichor dripping out of the great beast but take no chances and attack once more, finishing it off with a bit of overkill and leaving it in pieces on the floor.

In exchange, I recover 1x Crafting Supplies and earn another 60 XP for a total of 300 XP. My scavenging here fails, unfortunately. Also, I recover 1 Toughness (back to 12/20).

The door ahead is locked. I’ll force it open in two tries, but that means I need to make another roll on the Tension Die: d8 negative.

Area 7 (Room)

This chamber is made entirely of black stone, and any light that enters is quickly swallowed by its darkness.

While I can still see in here, I am reminded that only the light from the Holy Lord can truly drive back the darkness in Ker Nethalas.

Lair check: d10 positive (reduce to d8). Tension check: d8 positive (reduce to d6). Encounter check: positive.

Stone Warden

Stone Wardens are the most common type of earth elementals found in Ker Nethalas. Its stony features, resembling a humanoid form, exude an aura of primordial power and ageless knowledge. Yet, despite its solemn demeanor, the Stone Warden is an unforgiving defender. When roused to protect its domain, it wields tremendous strength, unleashing seismic force upon any intruders who threaten whatever it is that moves these creatures to act. Stone spikes emerge from the ground to impale its foes, and landslides are summoned with a mere gesture, making them terrible foes to face.

  • Number 1, Awareness 30, Endurance 60, Athletics 80, Health 6, Combat 40, MR 30, Humanoid + Elemental

I’m mildly surprised that it doesn’t count as having armor, but that’s better for me! I win the initiative roll this time and am determined to defeat it.

Round 1: My attack succeeds and I deal 1 damage to it (dropping it to 5 Health). In response, the Stone Warden raises its arm and causes a spike of stone to burst from the ground beneath me, dealing 3 damage and impaling me on the spike (Entangled condition).

Round 2: I expend extra effort trying to get free from this spike and disentangle myself from it. The Stone Warden delivers a powerful stomp, sending shockwaves through the ground, and I need to make an Acrobatics check but I fail. As a result, I take 1 damage (down to 10 Toughness) and am knocked prone.

Round 3: Again, I spend a whole turn just getting back on my feet. If I can just stay up a bit, I should be able to take it down, but it commands the power of the earth itself against me! And similarly, it stomps its foot and causes a tremor; this time, though, I am able to keep my feet underneath me.

Round 4: Now I can take a real shot at it; let’s make it count! I do, and in fact it fumbles in response, so not only do I deal 3 damage to the Stone Warden (reducing its Health to 2), but it manages to strike itself and receive a critical hit. Due to its Toughness, though, I think this should just be a regular hit, and so I just have it take d6 Bludgeoning damage (1) and leave it at 1 Health. In response, the elemental stomps angrily again, and I fumble my Athletics check. While this isn’t a combat check, a fumble should have some consequence and so I will take double damage, yielding a total of 3 damage and leaving me at 7 Toughness plus lying prone on the ground.

Round 5: I’m not giving up, so I drag myself back up and leap into the fight. The Stone Warden casts another Stone Spike at me, but I resist its earthen magic.

Round 6: With my rapier guided by the Holy Lord, I strike for 3 damage and return its force to the earth it came from.

As spoils, I find a Frenzy potion (“for the next D6 rounds you deal +2D10 damage, but you’re unable to defend in any way”), though again scavenging turns up nothing. I don’t recover any actual Toughness, but I do gain 60 XP for defeating the Stone Warden, bringing me to 360 XP.

There are two doors out of here, one straight ahead and one to the left. I’ll go left, and this time it’s neither locked nor trapped.

Area 8 (Corridor)

Tension check: d6 positive (reduce to d4). Encounter check: negative.

This corridor doglegs to the left, ending in another door. It’s not locked, and I fail to notice the trap, so the rush of water catches me off guard. I take 3 bludgeoning damage, dropping me to 4 Toughness.

Area 9 (Corridor)

Tension check: d4 negative. Encounter check: negative.

This corridor immediately turns left, and I recognize that this would lead me back to room 3. I don’t need to go back there, so I won’t risk the possibility of a trap on the door.

I’ll retrace my steps a few times back to room 7, which will require two Tension checks. The second one is positive, which leads to a growing darkness: another far-off Overseer scream. This time, the creatures in this domain gain the trait Corrupting: Each time the creature deals 3+ damage on a single attack, the target must make a Tenacity check or lose 1 Sanity.” Again, though, they become worth an extra +10 XP each. The Tension Die now resets to a d8.

Area 10 (Corridor)

Tension check: d8 negative. Encounter check: positive.

Per the map, I could maybe consider this a small room, but I think it’s more of a corridor with a slightly widened area towards the end.

Pyreborn

The Pyreborn rises as a blazing fire elemental, its form an ever-shifting dance of flames emitting a searing glow. With smoldering eyes and an unearthly grace, it leaves behind a wake of scorching devastation. Summoned by ancient rituals from the plane of fire, these creatures were commonly used as guardians by the ancient Vaelorians. Unleashing torrents of fire, it engulfs enemies in all-consuming flames and summoned firestorms, ensuring nothing but complete devastation.

Another elemental, fire this time. The holy flame on my rapier is, mechanically, not fire but Holy damage.

  • Number 1 , Awareness 40, Endurance 40, Athletics 20, Health 4, Combat 40, MR 40, Humanoid + Elemental

I fumble my initiative roll, and it wins.

Round 1: The Pyreborn erupts in a burst of intense flames; I fail to dodge, so I take 1 damage (down to 3 Toughness) and am now burning. I spend my turn stopping, dropping, and rolling to put out the flames.

Round 2: The Pyreborn uses that Inferno Burst again, but I critically succeed on my dodge. In response, I attack and deal 2 damage to it, leaving it at 2 Health.

Round 3: Per its nature, it continues sending bursts of flames at me. I nimbly sidestep the worst and return an attack, which deals only 1 damage and doesn’t quite defeat this elemental.

Round 4: Rather than change tactics, the Pyreborn continues its Inferno Burst, and this time it hits me for another 1 damage, taking me to 2 Toughness and setting me ablaze. I use some of the dirt here to put the flames out.

Round 5: Finally it tries something different, a magical Firestorm. I dodge once more, and my counterattack is successful, dealing exactly 1 damage to defeat the Pyreborn.

In the fading embers, I pick out a rare magical dagger. As I haven’t found any attunement crystals yet, I don’t know what specific properties it has. Scavenging turns up nothing; I’ll content myself with the 70 XP I gain from it, raising me up to 430 XP.

I’ve taken enough damage now that I need to take a breather. That recovers d10 = 1 Toughness, which was not really worth it, and also brings my Exhaustion to 1. In exchange, I lose 5 marks on my torch (now at 10/20) and reduce the Tension Die to a d6.

Finally, there’s a door at the end of this corridor, and it’s locked and trapped. I fail to notice the trap, unfortunately, so I try to force it open and fail. The trap goes off, with a swinging blade that deals d20 damage to me: the die favors, me, though, and deals only 1 damage, which cancels out my breather and leaves me at 2 Toughness. The Tension Die is negative, fortunately.

On the second attempt, I fail again, and the Tension Die turns up positive, reducing it to a d4. The third attempt fails once more, and the Tension Die is negative. The fourth attempt succeeds (just barely), and I gain 10 XP for opening a locked door, bringing me to 440 XP.

Area 11 (Room)

Plans for grand structures, some never built, while others bore terrible secrets, now rest here with the remains of their creator.

It is good that these secrets are buried, for they would bring pain to the living and shame to our Holy Lord.

Lair check: d8 negative. Tension check: d4 positive. Growing Darkness: You are ambushed! Roll on the Combat Encounter table. Your opponents surprise you.”

Fleshmelt Slime

This abominable ooze is a repulsive amalgamation of melted and rotten flesh, its form constantly shifting and quivering. Its surface appears as a ghastly palette of decomposing bodies, their tortured features forever frozen in twisted agony. As it oozes and stretches, it leaves a trail of putrid ichor and dissolving bone in its wake, leaving the very ground it touches barren and tainted. The Fleshmelt Slime feeds on the life essence of its victims, its acidic touch melting flesh and reducing bones to a grotesque pulp. Nightmarish moans and wails echo from within its semi-translucent mass, a haunting chorus of the countless souls consumed by its relentless hunger.

  • Number 1, Awareness 20, Endurance 60, Athletics 40, Health 6, Combat 30, MR 50, Undead + Elemental

This is perhaps the most horrifyting creature I’ve yet faced. But with the blessing of the Holy Lord, how could I possibly fail?

Round 1: I am surprised, though, so it attacks first and at +20, but it fails to hit me and my defense gains me +d10 damage on my next attack. I make that attack now, succeeding and dealing 2 damage to the Fleshmelt Slime (reducing it to 4 Health).

Round 2: The Fleshmelt Slime extends a tendril towards me, attempting to drain my life force. I cannot resist its magic, nor do I endure the necrotic attack itself, so I take 1 damage and reduce my Toughness maximum by the same amount (now at 1/19). It also regains that 1 health itself, back up to 5. In a holy rage, I slash at it and deal 3 damage, leaving it at 2 Health.

Round 3: The Fleshmelt Slime violently erupts, releasing a burst of noxious fumes and corrosive fluids around it.” I critically succeed on my Endurance check, though, and my counterattack defeats the slime.

After praying for the souls of those whose bodies were warped into this abomination, I find 1x Cooking Supplies in the remains. I also gain 70 XP for defeating the Fleshmelt Slime, bringing me to 510 XP. Scavenging turns up nothing, and I recover 1 Toughness (now at 2/19).

Camping

I need rest to recover health and perhaps do some crafting or repairs. (I’ve not done this before, so I’m working through the text for the first time. After going through it, I think the Camp Check is rolled after carrying out the activities, which isn’t entirely clear in the game, but it makes the most sense taken together.)

I have 4 Cooking Supplies, so I can prepare 1 ration in exchange for 1 Exhaustion and a -1 to the upcoming Camp Check. I’ll also repair my armor, spending 2 of my 14 Crafting Supplies to restore it to full. That costs me 2 more Exhaustion (up to 3) and reduces my Camp Check by another 2 (total -3).

I don’t have a lamp, so I will instead craft 2 more torches. (I don’t think the text says anything about my current torch, but to me it makes the most sense that it burns out.) That requires spending 2 Crafting Supplies and 1 Exhaustion, plus reducing my Camp Check by 1. That leaves me with 10 Crafting Supplies, 4 Exhaustion, and -4 to my Camp Check.

Finally, I’ll set up a barricade, giving me 1 Exhaustion and +5 to the Camp Check (+1 overall) but costing me 1 Crafting Supplies (down to 9).

The camp check is a 1+1 = 2, which means I’ll have an encounter and only gain half the benefits. That gives me 9 Toughness (back up to 11/20), 0 Sanity, and -5 Exhaustion (which is all I had anyway).

Vinekin

It is unclear what the Vinekin, a plant-like humanoid species, is doing in Ker Nethalas. Their forms are a nightmarish tangle of writhing vines and thorny brambles, that somehow form the outline of a humanoid shape. The Vinekin wield dark and chaotic powers, able to manipulate the corrupted plant life to ensnare and entrap their prey. They can summon tendrils and thorns to tear apart their enemies, but they seem to prefer direct physical combat. Many attempts at communicating with them have been made, but unfortunately they seem to be only interested in violence.

  • Number 1, Awareness 40, Endurance 40, Athletics 30, Health 5, Armor 1 (all body parts) Combat 30, MR 40, Plant + Humanoid

This ambush will certainly result in the death of this creature; the Holy Lord works through me to bring light to this darkness. I win the initiative roll.

Round 1: With my rapier, I strike true and deal 1 damage to the Vinekin (after armor), so it’s down to 4 Health. It charges at me and attempts a Brutal Slam, but I successfully defend and gain +10 to my next attack.

Round 2: I take advantage of that bonus and slash it for another 1 damage, but its armor absorbs the damage and it doesn’t take any. It tries to slam me again, which fails but I fumble and lose my grip on my rapier, embedding it in a wall.

Round 3: I’m unable to retrieve the weapon. The Vinekin summons twisted roots from the ground”, but I resist its magic.

Round 4: With a flourish, I pull my weapon from the wall just in time to try to defend myself. It lashes out with thorny vines and hits me, but for 0 damage.

Round 5: I resume my offensive and strike it for 1 net damage (down to 3 Health). It tries to ensnare me again with its vines; the blessing of the Holy Lord is with me, however.

Round 6: Once more, my rapier slashes away at this corrupted plant for 1 damage, bringing it to 2. As it lashes out with thorns, I dodge the attack but am unable to make a successful defensive move.

Round 7: I just manage to get through its defenses, but not through its armor. This time, I cannot resist its Entangling Roots and am Entangled.

Round 8: As a free action, I try to disentangle myself from the roots, but I fail. That results in a penalty to my combat check, and I fail to hit the Vinekin. It charges at me and somehow misses, despite my entanglement.

Round 9: I spend my action getting free and no longer have the roots around me, but I look up just in time to see this enemy lashing out with thorny vines once more. It misses me, fortunately.

Round 10: Slashing with my rapier, I inflict 1 damage on the Vinekin, but it’s still standing with 1 health. When it attempts another Brutal Slam, I get a moment of respite and recover 2 Toughness (up to 13).

Round 11: This fight is getting tiring; I press on despite this and defeat the Vinekin.

As a reward, I get 70 XP (up to 580 now) and find a Backpack! I don’t recover any extra Toughness, however.

Before I can enter the next room, there’s a door ahead of me and one to my left. I’ll go ahead first. The door is locked and trapped, but I notice the trap and that will give me a chance to avoid it when I inevitably trigger it by forcing the door. On the third attempt, I get a critical success forcing the door. The Tension Die had previously reset to a d8, so I make two rolls and it decreases to a d6. With the critical success, I decide that avoids the trap and I gain 10 XP for opening a locked door, bringing me to 590 XP.

Area 12 (Room)

An eerie fountain still trickling water is at the center of the room, a peaceful, almost out of place view.

This slightly smaller room gives me a reminder to thank the Holy Lord for the beauty that still exists in this dark place. (I also remember now that, as a Zealot, I can reroll 3 checks per domain, and I haven’t used any at all yet.)

Lair check: d6 negative. Tension check: d6 positive. Encounter check: negative (therefore an event instead):

A voice rises within you, making you question why are you bothering carrying all those coins when you have no use for them down here. Make a successful Resolve check or lose D100₵.

That’s a good question, to be honest, and I fail the check. Instead, I deposit 14 coins in the fountain, hoping that the Holy Lord will bless me for my generosity.

I’ll go back through Room 11 before attempting the next area, and the Tension Die (d4) has a negative result. The door out of here is locked but not trapped; it opens for me on the third try, and the Tension Die continues to turn up negative on each of those attempts.

Area 13 (Room)

Lair check: d6 positive (decrease to d4). Tension check: d4 positive (reset to d8). Growing Darkness: You’re slowly losing your grip over your own mind. If your Sanity is not at its maximum, you automatically lose 1 Sanity” In fact, I was at 12/13, so I lose 1 Sanity and am now at 11. Encounter check: positive.

Giant Spider

Towering over the unwary with its immense size, this arachnid monstrosity weaves intricate webs that glisten with a malevolent sheen, ensnaring both prey and the minds of those who dare to gaze upon it. Its hairy, jet-black body is marked with fearsome crimson patterns, a macabre warning of the venomous threat it poses. Eight beady eyes, each glinting with predatory intelligence, survey its surroundings with an uncanny awareness, while its serrated fangs drip with a potent neurotoxin.

  • Number 1, Awareness 60, Endurance 40, Athletics 40, Health 5, Combat 30, MR 40, Armor 1 (full body), Penetrating, Alert, Animal + Arachnoid

The monster is aware of my presence, perhaps due to the minute air vibrations that affect its web. Unfortunately, it wins the initiative roll.

Round 1: The Giant Spider fixes a Terrifying Gaze on me, but I score a critical success on my Resolve check. The holy fire fills my spirit and I leap forward with my rapier; unfortunately, the dark creature is able to avoid me, if only just, and deals 1 damage to me instead (down to 12 Toughness).

Round 2: Now it shoots sticky webbing at me, which I dodge before executing my own attack. I pierce through its armor for net 2 damage, dropping it to 3 Health. Today I will be victorious!

Round 3: Again with that magical gaze, and this time my resolve wavers a bit. I am frightened for the next 2 rounds, but at the start of my own turn I shake that off. In fact, my attack succeeds in striking it where it is most vulnerable (the cephalothorax) and I deal 3 damage, defeating the Giant Spider.

This gains me 70 XP (up to 660) and 1x Crafting Supplies. I also recover 1 Toughness (up to 13/20) and find nothing when I scavenge.

From here, there’s a corridor with no door to my right and a door to my left. I’ll go right for now.

Area 14 (Corridor)

Tension check: d8 negative. Encounter check: negative.

The map shows there’s an exit” to my right, but since this game has its own mechanic for finding an exit, I’ll assume that just leads to another part of the dungeon. If I need to go there later, I’ll connect another map.

Instead, I will go forward to a room with no door before it.

Area 15 (Room)

Mirrors made from dark, reflective obsidian distort your reflection, your lightsource casting haunting shadows.

Lair check: d4 positive. This is the Overseer’s lair! Tension check: d8 negative. There’s no encounter check here, because we already have one.

Veilshifter, the Illusory Archon, is an enigma of shifting realities that commands illusions and weaves intricate webs of deceit. Its form is ever-changing, a kaleidoscope of images that confound the senses, and its mastery over illusory arts casts doubt upon the very fabric of truth. With ethereal gestures, it unleashes bursts of dazzling light that blind and disorient, while its manipulation of reality can transform the battlefield into a surreal dreamscape. Veilshifter’s arcane power extends to summoning ephemeral doppelgangers that mimic its abilities, creating a labyrinthine challenge for adventurers as they attempt to decipher the real from the unreal.

  • Number 1, Awareness 70, Endurance 40, Athletics 30, Health 12, Combat 40, MR 50, Armor 1 (full body), Ruthlessness (2), Swift, Humanoid + Astral

This might well be the end, but I bring the fury of the Holy Lord with me. Either I will defeat this menace, or join my Lord in the afterlife.

I lose the initiative roll, even with using my Zealot passive ability to reroll the check (2 uses left).

Round 1: The Veilshifter immediately uses its Illusory Mirage ability, creating shifting duplicates of itself and its surroundings with those obsidian mirrors. It is heavily obscured and my attacks against it will have disadvantage until the next turn. Then it uses its Mystic Gaze upon me, and I see only threats everywhere. As a result, I take 4 Arcane damage, reducing me to 9 Toughness. Finally, its Reality Flux ability pours arcane illusions on me, dealing 1 more damage and leaving me at 8 Toughness. In response, I strike it successfully with my rapier, but I deal no damage against it.

Round 2: Again it uses the Reality Flux, and I take 2 more damage (down to 6 Toughness). The third time it tries it, I resist the magic, but then it fluxes reality once more and I take 4 damage. I’m down to 2 Toughness, but I haven’t even gotten down to my actual Health yet. My attack strikes it again, this time for 2 net damage (down to 10 Health).

Round 3: The Veilshifter changes tactics and warps the mirrored room into a dreamscape, altering the terrain. I fumble my Magic Resistance, and the GM side of me rules this means I’ll auto-fail the Athletics check, knocking me prone. While I’m down, it repeats its Mystic Gaze and I take 3 damage, dropping me to 0 Toughness and carrying over the remaining 1 damage to my Health (10/11). Finally, it distorts reality into a shifting landscape of illusions and I am both blinded and entangled for 2 rounds. The entanglement prevents me from getting back up from my prone position, and the blindness makes it impossible for me to disentangle myself. Instead, I choose to cast Heal Wounds, which uses most of the rest of my aether and gives me 1 Exhaustion, but I recover 2 Toughness for that. (I think I was reading the rules wrong for recovering Toughness after a fight before, but I don’t plan to go back and change those results now.)

Round 4: The Veilshifter summons illusory doppelgangers that support it in combat. Two doppelgangers appear near the Veilshifter and use its Illusory Mirage action immediately on themselves.” Let’s parse this out a bit. Each of the doppelgangers are heavily obscured, meaning attacks against them have disadvantage. They last until they’ve been struck, and on each turn, they make their own attacks. They’ll go after the Overseer and I have gone, I decide. The Overseer then casts Illusory Mirage on itself as well before pouring that torrent of illusions on me again, but I am able to resist its magic. I still can’t get up due to my conditions, and thus the doppelgangers have a bonus on their attacks against me. (The text doesn’t say what their combat rating is, but I’ll presume its the same as the being that summoned them.) The first one attacks and hits me for 2 damage, removing the Toughness I had recovered previously. The second one attacks and misses.

Round 5: It now summons another two doppelgangers, then casts its Dreamscape Shift again. (The way the text reads, that should affect its minions as well. I’m not sure that’s right, but for now that’s how I’m ruling it.) Regardless, both of them succeed on their Athletics check and stay on their feet. The Veilshifter does that dreamscape ability once more, and this time they fall prone. My blindness and entanglement finally has ended, so I spend my action getting up, as do they.

Round 6: Since only 4 doppelgangers can be active at a time, this attempt to summon more fails. But the Overseer casts Illusory Mirage on itself before overwhelming me with the Reality Flux, dealing 4 damage and dropping me to 6 Health. I attack one of the doppelgangers, and it disappears. One of the other three fails in its attack against me, and instead I will get a +10 to my next attack. The next one would hit me, but I get a critical success on my defensive check and instead my next attack will be able to attack a specific body part without the penalty. The last one misses me; I get another +10 to my next attack.

Round 7: The Veilshifter maintains its Illusory Mirage, then uses Mystic Gaze and I take 4 damage, leaving me with only 2 Health overall before it shifts the terrain back into the dreamscape; all of us fall prone, then spend our turns getting up.

Round 8: The dreamscape returns; I fall prone but the doppelgangers somehow all stay up. Not that it matters: the Veilshifter finishes me off with its Reality Flux, and I am ended.

Wrap-Up

That was more fun than last time, and at least I got to the boss fight. I enjoyed adding a bit more flavor to the game by reacting to some of the descriptions and events as prompts, as well as worrying less about parsing out the text and instead doing whatever made sense from what I could get from the rule plus common sense. I have enjoyed this and have every expectation to return to Ker Nethalas again someday. When I do, I’ll probably do more exploration to build up my character before actually confronting the overseer.

That said, I think I will try something next that has some overland exploration as well. There are so many games but so little time…

Up next Thousand Year Old Vampire: Heathcliff Dyson’s Delve: Session 1
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